tv KTVU Fox 2 News at 6pm FOX December 6, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm PST
and they were escorted by authorities and also by grief counselors. today authorities revealed that they may have found the origin of the fire. a refrigerator. located in the back of the building. and as frank mentioned the death toll remains at 36. 26 of the victims have been identified and 90% of the building has been searched. we are learning more about some of the victims. they range from their teens on up to their 30s. musicians and artists, teachers and students. >> we have live team coverage on the fire from past problems with the warehouse that burned down and the very latest from the scene. >> first going to al lee anna gomez with some of the victims. al lee anna. reporter: we are here in front of the memorial that continues to grow at international and fruitville. you can see here candles, flowers, posters and signs made by 4th grader and 7th graders and there are so many fresh
flowers here to be quite honest but that the aroma from the fresh flowers has completely overtaken the smell of the fire. a beautiful site to see. many people coming by to give prayers and send condolences to the many victims. we got a chance to hear about their lives today. >> for some those precious memories are cherished in the place that felt the most like home. >> for noel that place was high wire coffee in berkeley. >> both of these guys were so full of care and full of love. >> noel did not just lose one friend, she lost two in friday night's fire. the three of them worked together at high wire until recently. emily decided it was time for a change. >> she was going to move to brooklyn, plans to move there and was really focusing on her poetry and her writing. >> donna was a barista scheduled to work saturday morning but never showed up.
>> and trying to find donna, the first person i reached out to was noinging that she was close to donna and i found out from another barista they had plans to go out the night before. >> it turns out they went to ghost ship together to listen to music and they died with 34 others including alec cason, a filmmaker and father to two little girls. >> him being an artist, he was so meticulous to ensuring the sound and lighting was correct. a friendly attitude. >> martha taylor hired alex to film a documentary for her history book. he was at the ghost ship during what he loved. >> i was driven this morning to come back and be in that space not only with the other people that are here grieving with the city but the last place where my friend alex drew his last breath. >> three beautiful stories about three beautiful people
whose lives ended too soon. you heard of those people that spoke highly of the people that were writers and artists and loved and cared about this community in oakland and here they are being remembered by this memorial and by their friend and we continue to share the stories and remember the lives and celebrate the lives they lived during the time that they were here. frank. all right. al lee anna gomez on the scene of that fire with a look at some of the victims. thank you. in the meanme we are getting a closer look at the damage inside the warehouse. want to show you photos that show recovery teams going through the structure and another photo shows a crew with a cadaver dog as they search for other victims. authorities say that the search of the warehouse is expected to be finished sometime tonight and they are not expecting to find anymore bodies. ktvu's cristina rendon is on the scene and what they are looking at as a cause for the fire. cristina.
>> we know that atf investigators are looking for appliances and electrical equipment that may be inside the warehouse as possible source for the fire. we heard from the alameda county sheriff that a refrigerator could be the cause. a survivor said they saw flames coming from the fridge in the back of the building. again, they are looking at that as a possible source and when i talked to the atf she says it is not definitive and there is no indication of arson. >> that's not definitive yet. the electrical engineer arrived this morning and he is the expert at looking at the electrical appliances and lamps and any cords that were in there. he will look at those over the next day or two. and then he will see if there is any indicators that was the cause but right now that is not definitive. >> and as another update, crews
are 90% complete with the debris removal. number of victims stand at 36 and this afternoon fire crews began to knock down the top section that ran along the edge of the roof because they say that part of the wall was structurally unsound. police tell me they set up a viewing tent next to the warehouse where they are bringing any family members and victims that want to see the site. the sheriff says nine bodies were found in the middle of the warehouse including a man and woman. they were found on top of an rv hugging each other and it is believed that they fell from the second floor when it collapsed. it does look like the male was trying to protect the female from the fire and the smoke when they were overcome by the smoke. the male had his arm underneath the female as if they were hugging. >> how heart breaking. >> and for people to see that, it is very emotional for them. >> we are awaiting an update
now here at the podium. expecting to hear in congresswoman barbara lee and mayor libby shaft and the sheriff's department and the fire department. we have been waiting to hear from them all day. it is unclear what they will give us an update too but it appears that they could be done with removing the debris, they wanted to get everything done by midnight so we will infant wait to see if it does happen. in moments as it begins we will bring it live to you and we will send it back to you for now. the image of the two people holding each other. as they ended up dying is so heart breaking. cristina. thank you. new details on what the warehouse looked like inside before the fire. this picture of the stairs was taken in 2014. according to the photographer the stairs were not exactly wooden pallets, they were like 2 by 4s can cobbled together and he says they were rickety. a former neighbor of the ghost ship tells us he knew that warehouse was unsafe and
had a bad feeling about its principle tenant. henry lee in the newsroom with that coverage. >> the neighbor says that he repeatedly called oakland police about problems at the warehouse and not happy with the response. take a look. >> over the past two years, law enforcement and city building inspectors all paid visits to the warehouse known as the ghost ship and questions remain as to whether the city did enough to change the living conditions at the fruitville district warehouse before the devastating late-night fire that kill 3 dozen people. >> maybe they would have found the violations and maybe with that shut the place down and 36 people would still be alive. >> ben used to live kitty corner from the ghost warehouse. this was his view of the ghost ship and he saw it firsthand. loud parties and he called oakland police to complain and he got no response. >> this is treated as low priority call and i get that
opd is under staffed and they can't get to every single call, you have to question whether the low priority calls added up and it did. it added up to this horrific tragedy. >> ben says he has paid a price for complaining. last year somebody fired shots at his house and one bullet went through the front door with his family inside. he believed they came from the warehouse. he called the police. last year a woman flagged down police about her suv that derick almena was convicted of stealing. and another man says that derick almena threatened to get his gun against him after a dispute. we have not got a response from the city department over complaints but not knowing if they are aware of everything.
the tragedy raises questions about what the city could have done differently. >> are we staffed appropriately for these complaints? it is different. there are buildings that may be housing people legally that foster this and encourage the underground community and others are breaking the law. >> it is about the failure of local government to see a dangerous situation and take action upon it. back now to the scene of the fire. it is just beginning. johnny watson is talking and this is the fire chief now. >> good evening. i am teresa and i am the fire chief in the city of oakland. at this time we have proclaimed a local state of emergency. and this is scheduled to be ratified by our city council on december 8th. so some of you may be asking
what does that mean? once the local state of emergency has been been proclaimed, it allows the city to be eligible for possible state or federal refunds in support of this disaster. it also allows the local residents or businesses who have been impacted by this disaster to get funding to help them in regards to their businesses. because there has been many businesses in this area that have been impacted over the last four days. for instance, wendy's at the corner of international and fruitville have been closed for the last four days because of this incident. and so i think it is important that this has taken place and we are moving forward with trying to qualify for state or federal funds for reimbursement. >> this is our 4th night here. and i want to talk real briefly about some challenges that we have had in regards to our
search and recovery efforts. you know after the fire became under control before we could start the search and recovery efforts, there were areas to secure. the 2nd floor or the mezzanine was compromised and had potential for collapse and we had to bring in rescue companies to shore it up and able to shore it up with temporary shoring and then they had to come back into do some permanent shoring. this had to have taken place before we were even able to start the rescue operations. once that was taken place. we proceeded with our search and recovery and i believe it was on sundays that it was identified that the parapit of the structure and i know it was reported out that there was a
work stoppage because we had to determine how to address the parapit and we wanted to make sure how we addressed it accounted for the fact that we did not know that there was possibly still victims in the structure. and so there was various methods. the first night we tried to cut through the cinder blocks and feeding it out with a sledgehammer to make sure that the parapit fell on street side. this was very labor intensive. we recognize that we were not going to make efficient progress that way and so then we brought in some heavy rescue -- heavy equipment to try to pull the parapit so it would fall and that was causing additional damage and
additional worrying about the integrities of the wall on the south side and the bravo side that faces the vacant lot. what was critical is for us to find out that we still had about 20% of that warehouse that we still needed to search. but we could not continue our search operation until we were able to secure that parapit because we had to make sure that our firefighters were safe. and then finally the decision was made after bringing in cadaver dogs to search the 2nd floor and to search the bottom floor that there was no hits made by the cadaver dogs and the decision was made to push the parapit inside the structure and that was our last resort. but we had to make sure that we kept moving to assure the families were still waiting to know if there were anymore bodies inside the structure that we had to continue our
search and efforts. so right now this is being done and the parapit has been secured and we have companies there now that are working that are still doing the search and recovery effort and removing debris out of that structure. i want to thank atf for coming out again to help us with the investigation. i just want you to know that this is ongoing investigation that is still going on with atf and that there is no determination of origin or cause in regards to this fire and if we get any further information we will keep you updated. this was a unified command. oakland fire department worked in unison with the alameda sheriff's department and the county coroner's office. we worked with our fire partners throughout the county and rotating crews every three hours. oakland fire department has
been out here 24 hours continuously around the clock since the fire ended. we have been working 24 hours straight rotating crews in and they have been out here for three hours at a time. this has been a heavy labor operation plus a heavy mental operation. it got to a point that we were bringing our same crew members out here at that time that we recognize that it was important for us to utilize the neutral apartners. we engaged the neutral aid system and we brought in the following companies. we incorporated into the operation, alameda county fire department and police department and livermore and pleasanton and san ramon county and east bay regional park and cal fire the santa clara unit. we can do this by ourselves. we can't do this by ourselves. this was a huge operation and
it was something that we did not expect as a citizen of oakland that something like that would happen here. but we all came together and we worked through and i think we are pretty close to being able to tell the families that we have completely searched this warehouse and to let you know that the fire department will be on the scene here until we can look the family members in their face and tell them, yes, we have completely searched this warehouse and we can tell you that there are no more victims in this warehouse. i want to thank our supporting agency. the american red cross and i want to thank the various chaplains that came out that assisted with the family care center. and i want to thank the public for all of the donations that they have made and i want to thank the press for being patient with us. as we tried to get information to bring you what was going on and what was current. thank you.
>> criminal charges thank you, chief. >> congresswoman barbara lee. >> thank you very much. first of all to mayor shaft, to chief reed and to all of our first responders, firefighters, police officers, to our county, city, state officials and federal officials and volunteer staff, to everyone here tonight, let me just say that your response has been such a dignified response in many ways. i had the opportunity to talk to several family members today and they appreciate the respect and dignity that you have afforded them have you muddled through and worked through this challenging moment. we continue to pray for the victims and the loved ones and
the entire city during this very anguishing time. our condolences and my condolences. we continue to grieve with you and we will do everything possible and i just want to say to the family members and friends and loved ones and we will continue to do everything we can do to care and to comfort you during this particular time. part of the relief effort in 1989 and the fire storm of 1991 and the resilience of the people of oakland and their concern for their fellow neighbors it was unparallel. and i have to say now. we have experienced another terrible tragedy. and the first responders and all of our officials, they have risen to the occasion in a
magnificent way. this has been unparallel if you ask me after coming through those two efforts and challenges and tragedies. and i was very intimately involved in both of them. and so i just wanted to say for that, we are all deeply grateful for your response. as we move forward during this grieving period and mourning period and during this recovery and rebuilding process, just know that federal partnership is with the city and with mayor shaft and with our first responders. the federal partnership is surely seemless. i have talked with senator feinstein. with senator boxster and governor brown. they are committed to supporting the city for whatever efforts are necessary to go through the rebuilding process. i want to just say that mayor
shaft, the response has been steady. the priorities have been correct in terms of focusing on the victims and the families and the loved ones with respect and dignity and so i have to say i am very proud of my city and what has taken place here during this tragic time. i have been in touch with the white house on several occasions and i want to conclude by reading you a statement from president obama that really knows and loves oakland very, very deeply. he summarized i think our feelings when he said oakland is one of the most diverse and creative cities in our country. and the families and residents always pull together and they pull together in the wake of this awful tragedy just know that they will have the unwavering support of the american people. may god bless you.
thank you congresswoman. judy nelson. >> j d nelson with the alameda county sheriff's office. we have identified 35 of the 36 victims. we have one unknown and we have made notifications to 30 of the families. i hope to have a list of all of them to you tonight and that's what we are working on tonight. thank you. >> oakland mayor libby shaft. >> tonight is the night that we begin wrapping up the recovery process. and moving forward into the future. there is so many that you have had and will continue to have
and so tonight we are beginning by making available to you an initial set of public records. tonight we are making available public records from the last 30 years from the city of oakland planning and building department related to the warehouse at 1315, 31st avenue. as well as to the neighboring vacant lots that is on a separate parcel at 1305 31st avenue. the da and the oakland city attorney has confirmed that the release of any public documents created prior to december 2nd will not come pro myself any investigation related to this fire. any document created prior to the fire will be treated as a public record. and with the 30 year period
roughly covers the length of time for which we have electronic records. now we have prioritized planning and building records because the vast majority of the questions that we have gotten have been regarding the contact we had through this city agency. but we want to recognize that there are other city agencies that we are working on compiling records from. including police calls for service as well as fire inspection. now it is important to note that there are several ways that the city of oakland comes in contact with a property and that our responsibilities as a city vary based on the agency which has the encounter and the nature of the circumstances. and i'll just say that we are also seeking out records from other public agencies including
alameda county that will have records of interest. many people have asked and i once again confirm that according to public records as of 2007, the warehouse owner is listed as shore i ng that is the owner of the vacant lot. the permit was not for residential or public assembly use. now prior to the deadly warehouse fire, there have been three complaints made about this address. two in 2014 and one in 2005. these complaints were on december 8th, 2014 constructing house without permit. and then materials blocking
sidewalks and on november 16th, 2005 vacant lot next to above address, lot used as a parking lot and a homeless camping ground. this is a the address for the warehouse that was the subject of this horrific tragedy. now we have also included the complaints that have been made on the vacant lot adjacent to the warehouse. that vacant lot is a separate parcel and has a separate address of 1305, 31st avenue. for the past 18 years there have been 13 complaints. beginning in 1988 no visible street addresses which is why we have included records for both addresses. now 16th of those complaints happened in very past years and anytime between 1988 and 2014.
but the following two complaints were made on the vacant lot during 2016. on november 14th, illegal interior building structure and on november 13th, quote there are a ton of garbage piling up on the property. a lot of items left on the sidewalk. some with trash and hazards. the owner turned it into a trash recycle site. again these records will be made available to you on our website as we continue compiling all public records relevant to this event that happen prior to the fire, we will be making those available on our public records request website so that they are downloadable and assessable to everyone in the public. no one ever wants to see a
tragedy like this in their community. but when one strike it is our responsibility to take aggressive and quick action to avoid any future tragedy again. so we are committed to doing anything possible to improve the safety of our community and to prevent similar tragedy from happening in the future. today we began the process of assembly the team that will help us do just that. we have reached out to the national fire protection association, devoted to eliminating loss from fire and other hazards. they work through fire safety and codes and inspection and enforcement. they will be here this week to start building this team with us. the nfta has agreed to facility
a group of top-notched experts working with us on the ground to identify best practices and make the best recommendation for safety improvements in this community and we believe in a way that will improve community throughout this country. tomorrow at our downtown emergency operation center, we will be holding a further press conference to provide more details on this effort. our hope is that through the efforts, we will not only make oakland safer we will make the nation safer and at the same time lifting up this compassionate creative exceptional unity that we are so proud to call home. that's oakland, california. thank you. thank you mayor shaft. at this time we are going to go
ahead and open it for questions. i recall start here on the left and we'll work around to the right. go ahead, sir. >> (inaudible question). >> we are still in the process of searching. in the opposite side of the building, the side of the building on 31st avenue and on the bravo side there was heavy collapse in that area and so we had to secure the mezzanine and a lot of heavy equipment. that was the last portion of the warehouse that still needed to be searched. there was a limited number of search team that atf had identified as the possible place of origin. so they are trying not to disturb the investigation. there was preliminary searching done in that area. but there is -- the search and
recovery effort is still going on. we will be out here until we can definitely say that we have searched that entire structure and there are no more victims within it. >> is there a timeline you are looking at by tomorrow morning to say we are 100% done. >> it is going to take as long as it is going to take. we are not going to rush the process. we are going to maintain diligence and we respect the fact that there is potentially victims in there. so however long it takes for us to secure that warehouse we are going to take that time. but when we leave the scene, we will know and be able to tell everyone that we have searched that warehouse and there are no other victims within it. >> my question is to the mayor.how do you look forward to the futu